My Weekend Amongst the Goths at the Jack Off Jill Reunion

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story / Mary Lynn Ritch

photos / Remy Holwick

 
There comes a time in life where you have to do special things for your teenage self.  My parents never took me to concerts growing up so I didn’t get to see one of my favorite band’s Jack Off Jill perform.  When the opportunity came around to not only help break the story that they were reuniting for one night in Asheville, North Carolina but actually write about my experience– I jumped at the chance.
As a hardcore fan, I had every intention to write only a live review but in meeting fans who paid mild fortunes to venture out into the south to see a concert, I knew I had to do something special for them.  So the majority of this piece will be about the fans I met and befriended.
Friday, July 17 was a show curated by Jack Off Jill at the Odditorium that featured Daisy Berkowitz who was a founding member of Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.  When I got the venue which was a tiny place that I guessed featured a lot of punk bands. I saw Daisy being photographed under the event sign and I introduced myself.  He was incredibly approachable unlike the green haired guitar god staring down at me from a poster in my teenage room.
As I walked inside, I saw a sea of people dressed in all black, gothic attire which included Doc Martens as far as the eye could see.  I was slightly scared at first because I was at the show by myself. However I saw a seat open at a table, plopped myself down and started talking to the fans.
First I spoke to Nik from Portland, Oregon.  He didn’t tell his girlfriend he was making the trip to Asheville for the weekend.  However, he was personally friends with the band, Daisy and a bunch of the fans there.  When Jack Off Jill had their show the next night he and another friend of the band personally poured fake blood over Jessicka’s head during her Carrie moment (but more on that later.)
Nik’s good friend Colin from Los Angeles was there.  He was dressed in ripped jeans, black make-up, and a black shirt that read POSER. He apparently picked up his friend Kaysie who he met on the Jack Off Jill private group page in Philadelphia.   Colin was a Jack off Jill super fan who told me he met Jessicka once and immediately got star struck so he got Nik to get a bunch of his band memorabilia signed.  I asked Colin what he did for a living and he told me it was in the realm of IT.  In looking at him, you definitely wouldn’t picture him as a stereotypical IT nerd walking around an office fixing things.  So, I asked him to show me a picture.  He told me that his work clothes were something not meant for mine or anyone’s viewing pleasure for that matter because he had to wear a full suit.
Patrick Beardsley of Columbia, South Carolina who is the guitarist in the band Death of Paris made the trip up to see Daisy. I spoke to him later in the night as he stood front row with his girlfriend the entire time watching Daisy. He said he was glad he got to see one of his heroes play songs that helped inspire his pursing a career in music.

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Saturday, July 18 was the day of the Jack Off Jill reunion.  My friends and I went out to lunch and looked around downtown Asheville.  The people who were there for the show were very visible around town to say the least decked out in all black in Marilyn Manson and Jack off Jill shirts.   As we were eating lunch at a sushi place downtown, I saw three concert goers walk in and I introduce myself. They were Bianca Bangor of Austin Texas, and Peter Von Kunt and Paul Roesch from St. Augustine Florida.  When my friends announced they were going on over priced bus ride of the city I asked my fellow concert goers if I could tag along.  They were more than welcoming.
I walked around Asheville for an hour with my new friends.  Apparently Peter is a Jack Off Jill super fan and friends with the band.  According to Bianca, he had collected live footage of the band in the 90’s and Jessicka herself personally contacted him for the footage he collected which the band used in the reunion video.  As we went on our free downtown tour Bianca kept commenting on how we should all take a picture with the gothic Peter, Paul and Mary and we did.
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When Kitten Forever took the stage my friends had showed up and we danced like maniacs.  The band is a 3 piece feminist punk group that uses a phone as a microphone. As someone who had never heard them before, I didn’t have any expectations but they blew me out of the water.  They have a sound reminiscent of popular feminist bands like Bikini Kill, Jack off Jill and Distillers.  Two members alternated instruments while they all sang.  I’d definitely suggest looking them up if you’re a fan of punk.  They played for a good 45 minutes with Jessicka visibly seen backstage dancing. After Kitten Forever’s final song I saw Colin (who had VIP passes) come out and tell me Jack off Jill were about to hit the stage.
The band came out to a large applause. Jack off Jill picked up where they left off because they sounded like they hadn’t aged and were incredibly tight and polished.  They played all the hits knowing exactly what the fans wanted.
Before the encore, the audience waited for a Jessicka’s wardrobe change.  The band and Jessicka in a blonde wig and white dress came out. Then, Nik (who I met the night before) and an incredibly tall guy came out in hazmat suits.  The tall guy picked Nik up and proceeded to drench Jessicka in fake blood as the crowd cheered.
Jessicka introduced Daisy again to play his Ouija board guitar (who had previously played with the band before after leaving Marilyn Manson). The final song was “Love Song” a cover from the Cure in the 80’s.  As I looked up and watched the band authentically enjoying their time on stage with the Daisy addition I got incredibly emotional that my weekend for my inner goth teenage self was coming to an end.  The band not only sounded tight but knowing that Daisy who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer was up there with a band that never lost their spark made me realize that I was there for something much bigger than a reunion but I couldn’t put my finger on it until after the show.
In leaving the venue, I said bye to all the friends I had met over the weekend and saw Megan Whitting who I recognized as a big fan that posted quite a bit on the Jack off Jill reunion closed group on Facebook.  I asked her if she was up to talk about the experience and she followed my friends and I to a bar a block over from the venue.
She told me that she had driven down by herself from Chicago to see her favorite band perform because she couldn’t miss the experience.  Quickly I learned after she showed me photos of her with the band that the weekend meant so much more to her than a concert.  She told me her boyfriend who she identified as the love of her life had passed away exactly four years ago on July 18.  Every year that passes without him she says is just as tough as the first and when she figured out the show fell on the anniversary of his death she knew she had to go.  She said the concert allowed her to honor him in a different way that wasn’t depressing.

When I left Megan and got back to my hotel I was trying to think about what the weekend in Asheville with the Goths represented and as I looked down at my phone at the messages Colin sent me about him being drunk in his hotel and how he enjoyed meeting me– it became quite clear.  No matter what happens in life, what we are going through or where we come from music will always bring people together and show the best in all of us.
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Jack Off Jill will play another show at the Electric Ballroom Wednesday Oct 21in London, England. Tickets are SOLD OUT. Go to houseofaddams.com for Golden tickets.
 
 

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